an opera in one act by Erik Chisholm
libretto by August Strindberg


After last year’s successful performance of ‘Rothschild’s Violin’, 2015 saw McOpera return to the Cottier Chamber Project.

On Monday June 8th at 7.30pm in the Western Baths, in an enhanced concert performance featuring soprano star Jane Irwin, alongside Philip Sheffield, Damian Thantrey and Charlie Drummond, we revealed, to critical acclaim, the world premiere of Erik Chisholm’s fully orchestrated opera ‘Simoon’. Conducted by Ian Ryan, produced by McOpera’s own Sue Baxendale and performed to a specially commissioned film by director Roddy Simpson, with dancers Salma Faraji and Erick Mauricia and actor Michael Daviot, this is the last of Chisholm’s murder mystery trilogy ‘Murder in Three Keys’. ‘Simoon’ is a psychological thriller set in the hot desert and was certainly a night to remember!


The Guardian   ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗

‘…a valiant performance. Conductor Ian Ryan drew focused and atmospheric playing from the musicians of Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland’
Read the full review

The Scotsman ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗

‘Well done Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland, for taking the leap into the unknown and making a powerful evening’s entertainment.
The small cast delivered the hi-concentrate libretto with dark and devilish potency’

Read the full review

Opera Magazine

‘…finely played by the musicians of Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland under the sympathetic baton of Ian Ryan’


Algeria, during the 1880s: Ali, an Arabian guide, has been murdered by the French Legionnaire forces, and Biskra has sworn to avenge his death. Yusuf, her lover, intends to resists her embrace until she succeeds in this task, a feat she must accomplish without employing any weapon.

As the exhausted Frenchman Guimard crawls towards shelter to escape the cruel and potentially fatal brutality of the Algerian Simoon, Biskra summons the mystical powers of her lineage, and unleashes her exacting psychological revenge.

Promising succour, she remorselessly and systematically convinces the overwrought legionnaire that all he holds dear is violated – his senses confounded, his religion false, his wife an adulteress, cursed by him and laughing at his misfortune, his son dead, and he himself disgraced as a deserter from his regiment. In the final scene of this macabre torture, Biskra presents him with a skull, and Guimard, his life ebbing away, believes it is his… He is long dead!

Her revenge complete, Biskra and Yusuf embrace, honouring the child she will now bear him.



Biskra            Jane Irwin
Yusuf             Philip Sheffield
Guimard      Damian Thantrey
Voice             Charlie Drummond


Biskra            Salma Faraji
Yusuf             Erick Mauricia
Guimard      Michael Daviot

Elise                Kirsty McIntyre
Jules               Ben Clifford
Ali                    Kevin Axel


Director & Editor
     Roddy Simpson
     Roddy Simpson & Judith Fieldhouse
     Sue Baxendale
Production Assistant
     Rachel Holton (McOpera Intern)

     Ian Ryan
McOpera Leader
     Katie Hull

     Lliam Patterson & Ian Ryan

     Katie Hull
     Gemma O’Keefe
     Terez Korondi
     Giulia Bizzi
     Angus Ramsay
     Kirsty Orton
     Lev Atlas
     Mary Ward
     Alison Hastie
     Sarah Harrington
     Marie Connell
     Aline Harris
     Pete Fry
     Chris Freeman
     Yvonne Paterson
Oboe/Cor Anglais
     Kirstie Logan
     Lawrence Gill
     Janet Bloxwich
     Sue Baxendale
     Simon Bird
     Alan Pash
     Ruari Donaldson
     Jo McDowell
     Lliam Patterson
     Lynda Cochrane
     Derek Clark
     Laura Baxter

Thanks to
     Scottish Opera for all their
     support and assistance
     John Liddell
     Danielle Durieu
     Brodies Funeral Services Ltd, Harthill
     John Purser
     Agnes Török
     Anne Waring
     Sayed Razawi
     Mary Moffett
     Vanessa Barreto
     Kinning Park Complex
     Friends of McOpera
          Dr and Mrs Robertson
          Mrs Ellis Taylor
          Roy O’Neil
          Peter Armitt
          Jack Bogle)

     Rosewood Mustel No. 1023-779 (Date-1900)
          supplied by Phillip Fluke

Piano technician
     Ian Smith

Financial support
     The Chisholm Trust
     Simoon Travel
     The Western Baths
     The Cottier Chamber Project
     Hugh MacDonald

A huge thanks to Fraser Makeham, the Board and the team at the Western Baths. Not only have they allowed us to transform their sports hall into a venue, but they have stored carpets, sourced tables, allowed spontaneous site visits, got up early to let us in and always been welcoming and friendly – thank you!

Jane Irwin – Biskra (Opera)

Jane Irwin studied music at Lancaster University and singing at the Royal Northern College of Music.  As a concert and recital singer she has appeared regularly in Britain, Europe and America.  In 2002 she made her Carnegie Hall debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony under Mariss Jansons.  She has sung for the BBC Proms, at the Edinburgh International Festival, the Berlin Festival, the Concertgebouw and the Musikverein. She has worked with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestre de Paris, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Bamberg Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, American Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Spanish National Orchestra, Zurich Tonhalle, Philharmonia, City of Birmingham Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Hallé Orchestra and with conductors Myung Whun Chung, Sir Simon Rattle, Günther Herbig, Semyon Bychkov, Ivor Bolton, Andrew Davis, Libor Pesek, Donald Runnicles, Antonio Pappano, Sakari Oramo, Sir Mark Elder, Matthias Bamert, Trevor Pinnock, Petr Altrichter, Paul Daniel, Joseph Swensen, Sir Richard Armstrong and Jakov Kreizberg. She has given recitals at the Châtelet, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Geneva, Aix-en-Provence and Japan.

In 2009 Jane Irwin moved into the soprano repertoire. She sang her first Britten War Requiem in January 2010 for the Cambridge University Music Society under David Hill and has since sung Tatiana’s Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin at the Royal Festival Hall, Marie in Fragments from Wozzeck with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland on tour under Diego Masson, Isolde’s Liebsestod in Sardinia, Sieglinde in Act1 of Die Walkure in Mexico City, Andromache in Tippett’s King Priam at the Brighton Festival, and Brunnhilde’s Immolation scene from Gotterdammerung with the Bremer Philharmoniker.

As a mezzo she made her debut at the ROH in a new production of Götterdämmerung/Second Norn under Bernard Haitink returning in 2003 to sing Suzuki/Madam Butterfly. She has sung in Die Walküre at Bayreuth, Brangäne/Tristan und Isolde for San Francisco Opera, English National Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin, Mère Marie/Dialogues des Carmélites for Lyric Opera of Chicago and appears regularly with Scottish Opera highlights including Waltraute/Götterdämmerung and Anezka in The Two Widows by Smetana at the Edinburgh Festival.

Recent and future engagements include a recital at Pollok House, concerts with Manchester Camerata, Northern Sinfonia, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (with Sir Simon Rattle), National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, San Diego Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony, Real Filharmonia de Galicia, Orchestre National de Lyon and Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra as well as Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde for the Deutsche Opera Berlin conducted by Donald Runnicles and directed by Graham Vick. She will perform the role of Isolde for Regensburg opera later this year, and will sing Isolde in extracts from Tristan und Isolde with the Orchstre National de Bordeaux Aquitaine under Paul Daniel.

Salma Faraji – Biskra (Film)

Salma was born in Paris, France. Given an internship from Barrowland Ballet in her final year at West College Scotland,  she has since participated extensively as a Dance Artist for the company. She has continued to gain knowledge and expertise; Workshop Leader in Nursery schools for Scottish Dance Theatre’s ‘Innocence’ Tour, ‘Big Dance Pledge’ with Scottish Ballet, graduate placement with Ruth Mills, and facilitator for Commonwealth Games 2014. She recently toured the Highlands performing in Theatre Presto’s pantomime ‘Aladdin’, and continues to teach Adult dance classes at The Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling.

Philip Sheffield – Yusuf (Opera)

Philip Sheffield’s career has taken him all over the world from Buenos Aires to New York to Tokyo.

After studying at Cambridge University and the Royal College of Music he made his opera début under Roger Norrington in Monteverdi’s Orfeo. He was then invited to La Monnaie for L’incoronazione di Poppea which led to many engagements in Belgium, France and Germany. In this period of his career he sang roles such as Ferrando, Tamino, Belmonte, Lensky, Tom Rakewell, Pelléas, the latter most notably at the Opéra-Comique under Georges Prêtre. He quickly gained a reputation as a specialist in contemporary music and has performed leading roles in many world premières for Opera North, The Royal Opera House, Le Châtelet, de Vlaamse Opera, Opera di Roma, München Biennale and with the London Sinfonietta, notably Alonso The Tempest (Thomas Ades) for the Opéra National du Rhin.

He has appeared in major opera houses all over the world including La Scala, Osaka, Tokyo, Teatro Nacional de São Carlos Lisbon, Ópera de Oviedo, Opéra de Nantes, the Savonlinna Festival, the Megaron Athens, and works closely with internationally known directors and conductors – Olivier Pi, David Alden, Robert Carsen, David Pountney, Wout Koeken, Kazushi Ono, Marl Elder, Marcus Stenz, Paul Daniel, David Parry, Enrique Mazzola, Marko Letonja and Stuart Stratford.

Recent engagements: two world premières – Claude (Escaich) for the Opéra de Lyon and Der Turm (Lenners) in Luxembourg, Tichon Katya Kabanova at the Teatro Colon, Robin For You (Michael Berkeley) for the Teatro Olimpico, Rome, and Cerevin The House of the Dead for the Opéra du Rhin.

Current season/future plans: Harry The Girl of the Golden West for ENO and Fireman 1 Between Worlds (world première) for ENO at The Barbican, Snout A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Hyogo Performing Arts Center, Japan.

Erick Mauricia – Yusuf (Film)

ERICK VALENTIN MAURICIA, a founding and a leading persona of Ayawara West African Dance and Percussion Ensemble, brought his tradition, his knowledge and his experience of African music and dance to Glasgow from distant West Indies, African Guinea and France.

Erick gained a certificate in Art Restoration in Paris in 1979 and one in Performing Arts at The American Dance Centre in Paris in 1982. In 1989 and 1990 he taught Modern and Afro Jazz to dancers from The Bolshoi and Moiseiv Traditional Moscow Ballet in Russia. In 1996 he gained a Diploma in African Dance from The African Centre of Dance & Music in Paris.

Erick has choreographed, produced and performed for many productions and festivals involving modern and traditional dance, drumming, singing and stage plays in France, in Russia and in the UK. Apart from Ayawara, he has recently performed with Pan African Arts, Mara storytelling group, Guildasa and Maryhill Integration Network. In past, he was a member of various music bands and also performed with the Glasgow Gospel Choir.

For several years, Erick has taught African dance and drumming. He has done work with a large number of youth organisations in the community, e. g. The Princes Trust, impact Arts, Culture & Sport and Glasgow Life, the Glasgow dance house for 7 years, with schools and also with various organizations involving all ages. Currently Erick works as a freelance practitioner teaching and performing with the medium of dance, music and film ..

Ayawara ensemble was established in 2000 and Erick became its main persona. ……

Erick has trained for twenty years in Yoga, Martial Arts and Tai Chi techniques and has practiced meditation for some years. He also studied Counselling with Strathclyde University Glasgow and achieved the HNC in Sports Coaching and Development in 2008 at GCNS in Glasgow. Erick was also teaching Physical Education at The Glasgow Steiner School for 12 years.

Damian Thantrey – Guimard (Opera)

Damian Thantrey read law at Cambridge University before training at the RCM.

His most recent operatic roles include Deputy Mayor Anna Nicole (Royal Opera House), Apollo Orfeo (Opéra National de Lorraine and Cité de la Musique), The English Clerk Death in Venice (Opera North, Aldeburgh and Bregenz Festivals and Opéra de Lyon), Lun Tha The King and I, Prince/Wolf Into the Woods, Franz/Randolph Sunday in the Park with George, and Jonas Fogg Sweeney Todd (Theatre du Chatelet), Chau Lin A Night at the Chinese Opera, Eisenstein Die Fledermaus and Seven Deadly Sins (Scottish Opera), Pastore Orfeo (Opera North), Faiz Babur in London (The Opera Group), Ferdinand The Duenna (English Touring Opera), the title role in Eugene Onegin at the Blackheath Concert Halls, and Blazes in Maxwell Davies The Lighthouse for Psappha at the Orkney and Buxton Festivals

Damian has a wide solo concert repertoire, most recently Schönberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw & Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen, Belshazzar’s Feast at the Cadogan Hall, Messiah for the English Symphony Orchestra, and Mahler’s Ruckertlieder with the Salomon Orchestra. Other major performances have included Vaughan Williams’ Five Tudor Portraits with Vernon Handley/Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (live broadcast on Radio 3), The Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall with Sir David Willcocks, Bach’s Weinachtsoratorium at King’s College, Cambridge and St. John Passion at St. John’s Smith Square.

In recital, Damian has performed Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch with Malcolm Martineau at St. John’s, Smith Square and at the Oxford Lieder Festival, and made his Wigmore Hall song recital debut in 2003. Damian has also completed a UK tour with the Rambert Dance Company singing Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer and Kindertotenlieder. 2008 saw him give a major solo recital at Pollok House in Glasgow, accompanied by Malcolm Martineau.

Mark Kendall Artists Management Ltd

Michael Daviot – Guimard (Film)

Michael has been acting and writing professionally for over thirty years. Favourite roles include Henry Higgins, Elyot Chase, Prospero, Leontes, Mercutio, WB Yeats, Robert Louis Stevenson, Scarecrow & Barabas, the Jew of Malta. He played Giles Ralston in The Mousetrap for a year and has toured with Derek Jacobi. His self-penned solo piece ‘Hyde & Seek’ received rave reviews at last year’s Fringe; for this year’s he is writing ‘Nijinsky’s Last Jump’ for Company Chordelia. He will also be playing Neil Aspinall in Life With The Beatles by Davide Verazzani at Sweet Venues.

Charlie Drummond – Voice (Opera)

Charlie Drummond was born in Lincoln, and having graduated from King’s College London with a degree in English Language and Literature in 2011 is currently studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland under the tutelage of Clare Shearer. Concert work includes Handel’s Messiah, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Haydn’s Creation, Mozart’s Exultate Jubilate, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle and Mendellsohn’s Hymn of Praise in places such as Glasgow Cathedral, St John’s Smith Square, and Hong Kong Concert Hall. Operatic work includes: Susanna La Nozze di Figaro, La Contessa La Nozze di Figaro, 2nd Woman Dido and Aeneas, La Musica L’Orfeo, Melisande Pelleas et Melisande, Rosalinda Die Fledermaus. She also premiered the role of Serena Farage in the new opera The Secretary Turned CEO at the Tete a Tete opera festival in 2013 with the company Lucid Arts. Future engagements include singing in the chorus of The Rake’s Progress under Sir Andrew Davis, and reprising the role of Serena Farage in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer.

Ian Ryan – Conductor

Ian studied Economics at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and as a repetiteur at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the National Opera Studio. He was a staff repetiteur for Scottish Opera between 2007 and 2010. He has also worked for Royal Opera House, Opera North, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Edinburgh International Festival, Music Theatre Wales and NI Opera. Performances with BBC Symphony Orchestra include Nixon in China, conducted by the composer, at the BBC Proms and the Musikfest Berlin.

As an accompanist, he appears on the Meridian label with baritone Paul Carey Jones. Ian is also a regular guest conductor of the orchestra of Music co-OPERAtive Scotland, with performances of works by Britten, Verdi, Wagner and the Scottish premiere of Rothschild’s Violin (Fleishman) at the Cottiers Theatre, Glasgow. In summer 2015, Ian will join the full-time music staff of the Royal Danish Opera, Copenhagen.

Sue Baxendale – Producer

Sue Baxendale has worked in performance for many years as Section Principal Horn with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, and as both Producer and Education and Outreach Ocer for Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland (McOpera) for which she has both devised and led numerous projects. Throughout her creative life, she has been a strong advocate for the unique power of opera to express and articulate our modern lives.

Recent productions for McOpera have included the Scottish premiere of Fleishmann/ Shostakovich’s opera Rothschild’s Violin, and the world premiere of the original version of Erik Chisholm’s haunting Simoon with dance film, as part of the Cottier Chamber Project 2015.

Roddy Simpson – Director & Editor

After more than ten years experience as a professional actor is was only natural that my work as a film maker would initially be focused on narrative drama, but it is my work as a photographer and lighting designer, and predominantly my work as an editor, that has led me to the more abstract world of movement and dance.

Creating a film that provides the visual aspect of the live performance of Simoon has certainly been a challenge, not least because there has been no recording of the full orchestral piece to work with; but without doubt the biggest challenge will be “live editing” the film throughout the evening performance.